Plum Coulee recognizes community spirit

Citizen of the Year Archie Heinrichs receives his award from Plum Coulee Community Foundation director June Letkeman at the Foundation's AGM on May 2. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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The Plum Coulee Community Foundation recognized several members of the community that make Plum Coulee what it is at their AGM on May 2.

Archie Heinrichs was named Citizen of the Year and the Plum Coulee Women’s Institute was recognized as Community Builder of the Past.

Heinrichs said it was quite a surprise to learn he had been nominated as Citizen of the Year. “I’ve always enjoying being involved in the community,” Heinrichs said. “If you’re going to raise a family in any community, you want to be involved in the community and you want it to be a community. The only way you can make a community is if you put yourself personally into it.”

When Heinrichs moved to Plum Coulee in 1981, he said he saw many people involved in various groups. “I joined one committee after another and it just never stopped,” he said. “I was here for at least half a day before I was on the first committee.”

“Plum Coulee has always been interesting, there’s always been things growing,” he added. “It’s exciting.”

Heinrichs served as a councillor for 17 years and mayor for eight. After amalgamation, he has served two terms with the Municipality of Rhineland.

Heinrichs has seen many changes to the area since he moved, including the addition of a beach and Prairie View Elevator Museum.

“The elevator was very sad to see go, but at least instead of just bulldozing it down we turned around and made a beautiful museum out of it,” he said.

Heinrichs said there are always projects on the go in Plum Coulee.

“There’s something happening all the time,” he said. “If you want to just sit at home and sleep, doesn’t work. Somebody’s going to knock on your door, ‘We’ve got this to do.’”

“It was also a great place to raise kids because everybody was involved,” he added. “The kids weren’t just sitting inside, everybody had some kind of activity, there was a street hockey game… there was always something to do to keep them going.”

Heinrichs said that sense of activity is what makes Plum Coulee a true community. “Sure, we may travel, but we’ll always come back to Plum Coulee. We’ve definitely made it our home.”

The Plum Coulee Women’s Institute was established in 1919 with 28 members at the beginning. The group was heavily involved with every aspect of the community.

Dorothy Penner got involved with the Women’s Institute in 1960, and was with the group until it disbanded in 1975.

“I grew up in Plum Coulee and then I was gone for a number of years,” she said. “I always admired the ladies that worked there. They invited me to come to some of their meetings and the rest is history.”

Penner said the experience was rewarding for her. “Some of these senior ladies… they were wonderful role models,” she said. “They really stressed that we were for home and country first of all. If we had sick children at home they said just stay there, come and help next time.”

The Women’s Institute’s list of accomplishments and involvements in the community ranged from fall suppers, Mother’s Day teas, sewing groups and educational groups.

“By doing things and seeing the joy you bring to people, meeting all the people in the community,” she said. “We felt that as a group we were part of a little family.”

Penner said she admires the community of Plum Coulee and the fact that community recognized the Women’s Institute as Builders of the Past. “I think that is so wonderful for this younger generation,” she said. “They don’t just think for today, they think past where they came from.”

Penner’s father was honoured a few years ago by the Foundation, but she said the award for the Women’s Institute was a surprise.

“I just think Plum Coulee is a wonderful community,” she said. “As the WI, I think we all enjoyed living here, working here and taking part.”

The Plum Coulee Women’s Institute was recognized as the Community Builder of the Past at the Plum Coulee Community Foundation’s AGM on May 2. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)